New York – Industry heavyweights emphasized Wednesday the importance of technology and millenials when it comes to the future of programming in a landscape filled with multiple avenues of distribution.
The comments came during a panel at NewBay Media's Business of Multiplatform TV Summit in New York.
Moderator Barbara Bellafiore, president of Bell Communications, said at the beginning of the session that the insiders would focus on the evolution of TV audiences, video traffic and content pipelines thanks to multiplatform devices.
But EPIX chief of staff Nora Ryan pointed out that new technologies, like smart phones and tablets, are not something to fear.
“Digital and Internet, it’s really just our next opportunity,” said Ryan.
Television has found ways to welcome such opportunities before in the form of cable and satellite providers.
The panelists agreed that the habits and interests of the multiple device viewers, and often times the 34-and-under crowd, will drive the future of television.
Although CBS soaps The Bold and the Beautiful and The Young and the Restless are 27 and 41 years old, respectively, both “are doing incredibly well digitally,” said Marc DeBevoise, executive VP and general manager, entertainment, news & sports at CBS Interactive.
He attributes the network’s “blossoming daytime audience online” to the “digitally savvy” women who “are not able to find [an episode] the moment it is on air, but they are able to find it” on CBS’s digital platforms.
By creating this flexible time shifting capability for quality entertainment, CBS Interactive has been able to monetize daytime TV.
A+E Networks has seen similar growth with their over-the-top content. Dan Suratt, executive VP of digital media and business development at the company, has noticed that with the creation of Android and OS apps as well as Roku, Apple TV and Xbox 360, “OTT is about 20 percent of our overall consumption.”
The high usage of A+E Networks' flagship A&E’s digital platforms is attributed to young women.
“Dance Moms lights up on Wednesday afternoon when the kids are home and the newest episode is available online. The device that is used is the iPod Touch. We can essentially discern from the fact that it’s probably a teenage girl,” said Suratt.
Richard Kosinski, president of social video marketer Unruly, also emphasized the importance of a young audience naming millennials a demographic to pay attention to. Millenials are watching twice as much online video as their generation X counterparts and five times as much as baby boomers.
Although Kosinski pointed out that millenials are twice as likely to be using at least two devices at the same time, it doesn’t mean they’re uninterested in traditional programming. They still “want to see the show that everyone is talking about and really engrossed [in] it,” said Suratt.
EPIX’s Ryan agreed saying, “People still want to watch the long form program in HD on a big TV screen.”
The way viewers access the episodes has simply changed. She explained, “We see the bulk of the viewership coming through game consoles,” due to their connectivity to larger screens.
Whether consumers find content on an Xbox360, iPhone or a live television Ryan said, “the important thing is to be there.” The other panelists agreed.